Human face is a very powerful tool in designer’s toolbox. The influence that a face can have on people is surprising. However, all too often, we ignore this tool when designing our products. We simply forget to consider what the human face is capable of doing.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways designers can use human faces to improve UX.
1. Create First Impression
When we meet a new person our first impression has a significant impact on whether or not we like that person. Basically, it takes only a few seconds for us to decide if we enjoy spending time with someone or not. Same works for our digital products. Once a product has made a negative first impression on users, chances are they won’t use it again.
But how can we build an arc with our users right from the start? We can use human faces for that. Human faces have one powerful property — they catch visitor’s attention. When users enter a new page they’ll almost instantly focus on images with human faces, no matter what other content is presented on the page. If a human face is featured on a page it, quite literally, gives users their first impression of a product. Take into account the fact that it can take only 50 milliseconds for users to form an opinion about a website, a face can be a powerful tool which has a significant impact on it.
Of course, human faces don’t always have to be photographs. Illustrations can be equally good for your users.
2. Guide Your Visitors’ Line Of Sight
Not only faces are great for grabbing people’s attention, they are very useful for directing their attention, too. Faces can do an excellent job of guiding the visitor’s eyes in a certain direction. When people see another person who’s looking at something, they follow the line of sight. This works both for online and offline experiences. So next time you need to focus users attention on important content or call-to-action button, use the human face for that.
Tip: Use still photos to direct users’ gaze. Using faces that move as they gaze rather than a still photo of a face isn’t as effective in directing a user’s eyes to a particular part of a page.
3. Elicit Emotional Responses
We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ – and it’s especially true when it comes to communicating on a more emotional level. Human face can portray a variety of emotions. And it’s possible to convey emotions through design by using an emotional expression on human faces. That’s because emotion users find displayed on faces subtly influences their feelings about an app/website. If a person looks genuinely happy or sad, users are likely to feel similarly. A few case studies (such as Highrise and Medalia Art) confirm that emotions in design is directly related to the conversion.
You can create a much powerful effect by using multiple faces which share the same emotions. Just like one single facial expression can carry emotions, faces can also create a certain sphere. It’s a great way to draw a user in and make them want to be part of the group experience.
4. Build Trust
Human faces can also help in establishing a sense of trust. Trust is essential if you want to build a loyal customer base. In the digital space, where so many different products are available online it might not that easy for end user to find a product they can trust. Showing your face can be a sign for other people that you’re open and trustworthy, that you have nothing to hide, and that you are proud of the work you do.
Using human faces is especially important for products where trust is critical (i.e. medicine, child care, etc.).
Keep in mind following rules if you want to use human faces to convey trust:
- Always ensure the genuineness of the people in the images that you include on your website/in your app. Users easily recognize the difference between real people and cheesy, impersonal stock photos. If you don’t believe me consider the difference between two photos below.
Real team. Image credits: Google
- Place photos where users expect to see them. One of the simple ways to build a trust is to show people responsible for business or product. You’re probably familiar with the “About Us” page on most company websites. Such pages usually display images (faces) of CEOs, management, and team members responsible for the project.
You can also provide faces of your existing clients together with their quotes about experiences. This information can be featured on homepage or product page. This will help your visitors relate to the topic and invite them to become a part of a community.
5. Create Authority
A familiar human face is one of the most reassuring things a visitor can see. That’s why faces of celebrities or other famous people are so often used in design and advertising. Obviously, this only works when the person is believed to use the product. For example, a picture of a famous model wearing a watch will help to make the product more desirable for the target audience.
6. Create Visual Appeal
It’s fair to say that part of product’s success can be attributed to the visual appeal. We all judge a book by its cover. When we have the choice, we always prefer an attractive design over an ugly one. You might wonder how this is relevant to human faces in design? You can use human faces to improve aesthetic aspects of your design.
Human faces provide users with a personal touch that websites often lack. It makes users feel that there are actual people behind the design. Here are some great examples of using faces for visual appeal:
Image credits: Adham Dannaway
When adding images of people to your product’s content, remember that displaying faces is another form of information delivery. When used successfully, they can influence how people perceive our products.